Features
2 jan 24

BYD surpasses the 3 million mark in 2023, ever-threatening Tesla's BEV throne

Chinese new energy vehicle (NEV) manufacturer BYD is again the top passenger car manufacturer for another year, surpassing Tesla in the last two years and even threatening the American giant's all-electric car throne. 

Two distinct strategies with distinct roots from opposite sides of the world are approaching each other like two giant waves. From the West, the premium battery electric vehicle (BEV) manufacturer Tesla has swept North America and is now gradually dominating Europe with a strong charging network. From the East, BEV and plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) manufacturer BYD has already conquered China and is now leading the strike force of Chinese brands in Europe. 

By the end of 2023, however, the Chinese wave has strengthened and aims to shake the all-electric markets where Tesla is already the top choice. On Monday, BYD announced that it sold around 3.02 million vehicles in 2023, including BEVs and PHEVs, representing a 61.9% increase from 2022. 1.6 million cars are all-electric, and 1.4 million are PHEVs. In the last month of 2022, BYD sold 190,754 BEVs and 149,424 PHEVs. 

In 2022, BYD produced 1.88 million cars to Tesla's 1.37 million. Nonetheless, Tesla is far from idle, boosting production and preparing to move into new markets. While Tesla's sales figures in Asia for the last year are still expected (Tesla doesn't release monthly sales figures), the EV giant sold 1.35 million cars in the first three quarters of 2023, almost equaling 2022. The competition in the major markets, China and Europe, is also far from decisive, displaying fierce competition between the two companies. 

In the Chinese EV market, BYD grabbed 25.38% of the sales in November 2023, reaching 140,103. Tesla pursued second place, with 11.87% of the market through 65,504 sales. Interestingly, the top-selling model for that month was the Tesla Model Y with 49,877 units, followed by the BYD Seagull with 40,594.

In the same month, 56.36% of the 301,903 cars BYD sold were BEVs. Thus, BYD also got ahead of Nissan in monthly EV sales for the first time, which sold 279,102 vehicles in November 2023. 

New strategies and models to come on stage

The figures clearly indicate that BYD is now producing more BEVs than PHEVs, opening the gap in BEV sales figures in China against Tesla. After ceasing the production of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in April 2022, BYD adopted price cuts as an essential sales strategy to hit the 3 million sales target in 2023. Surprisingly, BYD and Tesla sales went down 17% and 13%, respectively, in the first week of December 2023 in China despite the price cuts. Yet, BYD reached its goal, while Tesla's deliveries are expected to reach around 1.82 million in 2023. 

In Europe, Tesla's domination is unquestioned, with Model Y having sealed the top place not just in Europe but in the world as the best-selling passenger car. However, BYD is slowly gaining ground, surpassing Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 5-Series and 4-Series sales in August 2023 with Atto 3 in China, which sold 2,559 that month. BYD sold 2,685 EVs in August 2023, up from 186 in August 2022, according to AutoNews.

So far, BYD and Tesla have used their strongest cards in the global EV market, to be refreshed in 2024 with new strategies as some, significantly cutting prices, have been used to almost maximum. We can summarise the current and expected moves from the two brands below: 

                                                         BYD

Current and old 
Offering EV and ICE vehicles to address a wide range of customers. 
Becoming the top EV seller in China. 
Applying price cuts to meet competition. 
New 
Penetrating new markets, including Hungary, Mexico, India, Turkey, Australia, Colombia, Brazil and Thailand. 
Gaining momentum in the European passenger car and fleet markets through price advantages. 
Forming partnerships in Europe to pave the way for future expansion. One example is the deal between Inter Cars and Armatus in June 2023 to provide sustainable commercial solutions in Poland. 
Strengthening competitive advantage through EV battery tech.


                                                    Tesla 

Current and old
Dominating the premium and affordable EV markets. 
Offering distinct EV features, especially the Autopilot.
Attracting customers with strong price cuts. 
New 
Solidifying domination in North America through price cuts, government-offered tax credits and a strong supply chain. 
Expanding Supercharger network in Europe and other regions. 
Entering new strategic markets, including India, Mexico and Turkey. 
Boosting performance through advanced EV battery technology
Improving performance and customer satisfaction with new versions of current models, especially Model Y, is expected in 2024. 
Gaining ground in passenger and fleet markets with Tesla Cybertruck and Tesla Semi truck. 


With BYD and Tesla trying to push each other off the top stage, 2024 will be rich in fierce competition between dozens of EV makers, driving innovation in the market.

The main photo shows BYD Atto 3. Courtesy of Shutterstock, 2282551787.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen